20,000-plus People Boycott Bluefin Tuna, Restaurants That Serve It

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580

20,000-plus People Boycott Bluefin Tuna, Restaurants That Serve It

Consumers in 50 States, 91 Countries Pledge to Save Tuna Threatened by Sushi Demand

SAN FRANCISCO - More
than 20,000 people have agreed to boycott bluefin tuna as part of the Center
for Biological Diversity’s campaign to save this fish, driven to the
brink of extinction to supply the sushi market. In the first week of the
boycott, consumers from all 50 states and 91 countries signed a pledge not to
eat bluefin or spend money at restaurants where it’s on the menu.

“By
voting with their wallets, consumers are saving bluefin tuna by keeping it off
their plates and steering clear of sushi restaurants with the rare fish on
their menu,” said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney at the Center,
which in May sought Endangered Species Act protections for Atlantic bluefin.
“Eating bluefin tuna is handing out a death sentence to the last
remaining survivors of this majestic marine species.”

Prized
as a high-value dish at sushi restaurants, bluefin are being pushed to
extinction by decades of overfishing. The western Atlantic stock of bluefin,
for instance, has dropped by more than 80 percent since 1970. The eastern
Atlantic stock dropped by 74 percent between 1957 and 2007. Still, bluefin
remains on the menu of some restaurants. High market prices — a single
bluefin tuna sold for $177,000 earlier this year — spur rampant illegal
and unreported fishing.

“Bluefin
tuna are on the path to extinction, yet overfishing continues. The
international community has failed to protect bluefin, so thousands of
consumers are now demanding action by boycotting the endangered fish,”
Kilduff said. “Together, consumers and restaurant owners have a real
chance to drastically reduce demand for this imperiled fish and keep it from
slipping into oblivion.”

The
boycott, launched Nov. 30, also calls on chefs and restaurant owners to sign a
pledge not to buy or serve bluefin. Five restaurants in the United States that advertised bluefin tuna on
their online menus in November, including Nobu in New York
City, Las Vegas and Los
Angeles, Sushitaro in Washington, D.C. and Kabuto Sushi in San Francisco, received hand-delivered
requests to stop serving bluefin. As of this week, none of the five have
stopped serving bluefin, although one restaurant, D.C.’s Sushitaro, no
longer specifies online that its “fatty tuna” is bluefin.

Background
Bluefin tuna are oceangoing fish that grow up to 10 feet long and can weigh
1,200 pounds. Unlike almost all other fish, they are warm-blooded and able to
regulate their body temperature, which helps during their epic journeys across
the Atlantic. Bluefin tuna are top ocean
predators and sometimes hunt cooperatively, much like wolves. With streamlined
bodies and retractable fins, they can bolt through the water at speeds of 50
mph and cross oceans in the course of only a few weeks.

The
International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the western
Atlantic bluefin tuna population and the southern bluefin tuna as critically
endangered with an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the
immediate future. IUCN classifies eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna as endangered,
meaning that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near
future.

To
learn more, visit bluefinboycott.org and share the
Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluefin-Tuna-Boycott-Join-the-Bluefin-Brigade/107330386001726).

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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